tv Book Discussion on Qatar CSPAN December 24, 2013 3:15pm-4:31pm EST
roster of prospective celebrities, people like uphold, walt disney, marlene dietrich. howard hughes. some of the most famous people in the world but those are the kinds of people that they sought to use as each man for their new religion. celebrities become to the church. they built a celebrity center so celebrities would feel at home there. and in some of the early people that came into the church, rock hudson passed through. apparently, he got very upset when he was in the middle of an auditing session and they need to go put more money in the parking meter and they wouldn't let him out of the room. so he stormed out and never came back here gloria swanson, who was the sort of faded movie star of silent movies. you know, later people like leonard cohen and even elvis
presley made a stop. he didn't stay in the church, but his widow and daughter are still prominent members. so the idea was that celebrities are useful. they become megaphones for advertising the church and its benefits. and as you look at the people who have been their spokespeople, like john travolta and tom cruise, each of these guys at one time was a number one movie star in the world. and that's a very powerful lower to young people who have gone to hollywood and are solicited by the church to come to the celebrity center to see how to get an agent or how to get ahead in the business. if you look at who is in the church, they think maybe i could be a star as well. >> you can watch this and other programs online at the
booktv.org. >> mehran kamrava talks about the outside influence of qatar in the world. he argues unlike other regional powerhouses, qatar is been able to achieve its global standingik through al-jazeera, its supportr of democracy movement in thebeen middle east, and through the ab hosting of majlor world events t like the world cup.d this is about one hour and 15 minutes. >> thank you all very much. let me start by thanking the thl wonderful team for tonight's event. i'm most grateful and honored tm be here. thank you all.ight's i was motivated to study qatar. i've been in qatar since 2007 at the georgetown campus in doha.e 20 one of the first things that struck me about the country was one of it's amazing development.
and its relative success. and so what motivated me to a write this book was the simple question of whether or not qatar is for real.k i t i don't know those of you, how many of you are familiar withott qatar, but in many ways this is a country that consistently punches above its weight, to use an overused metaphor.nsist and it's a small state which tries to be extremely consequential, not only with the arabian peninsula and within the persian gulf region but in the larger -- larger middle east and beyond. it exercises a certain amount of power that in many ways is incommensurate with its size, its demography and its history. in a region where relatively great powers like egypt and syria and iraq and iran and saudi arabia have long influenced regional affairs and
have long called the shots, if you will. qatar has been extremely consequential over the last decade and a half. and has not only been extremely nonsequential but it is also in many ways shaped the direction of current events and, in fact, history as it unfolds. so when i went there there were several questions that i had, and one was what i posed earlier, is qatar for real? is this the country that is exercising a sort of power that is fleeting and impertinent, or is it a country that is in many ways consequence of? then if you look at doha, it's an amazing and -- it's a very odd city in terms of its development. had it is engaging what you might call high modernism, the
city there is going into the seat and into the sky with artificial islands and high rises. but it is also a city where you have very relatively little urban tradition. and the urban tradition that is there is state directed. it's an urban tradition where the government deliberately tries to create a sort of parity. answer the questions i have for myself were to what extent does all of this mean anything and how lasting is this? is this something that fleeting in the larger history of the middle east where we have the world's oldest civilizations, and where we have countries that have long shaped the history of the region. the more i studied is the more i realized a couple of things. first of all i realize that qatar is indeed a success story. it's not an unqualified success,
but it is in many ways a success story and that story needs to be told. i also realized that there's a series of developments and factors that have converged at the same time to resolve in what might be called qatar's moment in history. qatar it currently is writing hi. it is not only punching above its weight but it is in many ways having a number of successes that are shaping consequentially middle eastern history. and so qatar is in many ways a success story that needs to be told. but again, it does have some glitches. then i realized for myself as well as for others, it's a place that needs to be described and it's a place that needs to be studied and analyzed. because it isn't just fleeting. when i went to qatar, i had an extreme hard time describing the
place for others. i remember one of my first official meetings was with a high ranking diplomat and asked him, i said, how do you describe this place to of this? its extreme difficulty described qatar. and the image he said, he told me to images that stuck in my mind. one he said, this is like those scenes in james bond movies where you have these national celebrations where people have their national dress and they're all getting together in beautiful colors of their own national dresses. anti-many ways qatar resembles of that. the second image he told me about was more lasting. he said, imagine at the time, the size of the population was about just over 1 million. he said you have 800,000 people waiting on 200,000 people. and that image really stuck with
me. so i decided when i wrote this book, i thought one of the first things i needed to do was to describe this difficult -- this place that is difficult to describe. this odd place. so bear with me as i attempt or redo a passage from the book, and tried to describe the place. for those of you have been in qatar, you know there are lots of opulent buildings and very luxurious hotels. what i'm about to tell you is inspired by the description in the lobby of the ritz-carlton hotel in doha. there are a number of other hotels that are newer and more opulent, but this particular passage -- i've been there for more than six years now, close to seven years and every time i go to the lobby of the ritz-carlton, in many ways i'm overwhelmed by the opulence that i see. so i decided to start off with a description of doha, and then
until the a little bit about the kinds of power and influence that i think qatar is exerting and what are some of the ingredients for its success that osama mentioned. doha may lack devise obsession with bling, but it is still filled with the glitz that numbs the senses and distorts perceptions of reality. many parts of the city resemble a surreal and complement make sure of hong kong on the one hand and tucson, arizona, on the other. it's not surprising that today's doha is one massive construction site. no sooner our city maps printed that they become obsolete. as new roads and multilane highways replaced old street. roundabouts, marvels of traffic engineering from a bygone era of
few cards and manageable street slopes are being suddenly replaced with four cornered junctions and timed traffic lights. cranes and other heavy construction equipment are ubiquitous features of the urban landscape. doha it seems is addicted to carry up asphalt streets as soon as they are ready for use. entire neighborhoods made up of older shops and larger single-family homes are raise with unsettling frequency and replaced by tall glass covered gleaming buildings. remembering directions to the point of is often an exercise in futility. taxi passengers frequently find themselves having direction to their drivers. many of them are recent our righties from bangladesh or ethiopia.
doha's road industries meanwhile, are suddenly -- cars strewn on the side commit product of the world's highest and deadliest traffic accident rates. the municipalities come installation of speed cameras all across the city has done little to encourage a culture of driving safely. unsurprisingly, most people prefer larger, safer cars. the ubiquitous toyota land cruisers, overwhelmingly in white, is picking up doha roads. the preferred part of qatar is a significant status and the. in recent years more daring colors of black and great are also seen darting around town. all the while, the city's armies of construction workers in the tens of thousands remain as
inconspicuous and hidden from public view as possible. the state employs a discourse revolving around the protection of the family to bar bachelors from shopping malls on so-called family days and from living in family residential areas. in this sense, bachelor is a code word for migrant workers. from south asia. and family designates everyone else, married or not. the biggest interaction between unskilled migrant workers and the rest of the country's residents, save for household maids, are on doha's congested streets, where stuck in traffic, tired eyes here to have open windows of old american school buses or grungy ones made by
workers, driven from future hi rises to the distant labor camps. so what i tried to do was to convey a sense of this odd mixture between hong kong and tucson, arizona. the city that has landmarks named the pearl that have nothing to do with the culture of the gulf. but nevertheless, are an important part of the country's tradition and its sense of identity. it's since of being. but then i realized that, in fact, del hawkins i mentioned is a success story. it does have some challenges. it does they some serious fundamental challenges. but nontheless, it is in many ways a success story. and what are some of the ingredients of that success story? what are some of the main factors that have made doha and qatar into what it is today?
i discovered that those can be divided very broadly and in summary fashion into four categories. first and foremost, at least as compared to the rest of the middle east and its neighbors in the arabian peninsula, qatar has a comparative advantage that others don't. in many ways qatar has remarkable social cohesion. 10 to 20% of qatar are said to be shia. and about 10% of qatar claims their ancestry to have come from iran. nevertheless, the qatar shia tend to be remarkably supportive of the ruling family. so unlike bahrain, for example, where there are fundamental very major securing attention, in qatar there's a remarkable social cohesion. also unlike the united arab emirates which is confederation, and one of those emirates has a
wayward router that needs to be bailed out every so often by the ruler of abu dhabi, qatar doesn't have that problem of having a confederation. qatar also in addition to its social the weekend hasn't been a small geography. it is at most around 200,000. and so it's a very governable, easily manageable country. it also has inordinate resources. it has inordinate wealth. so when the one hand, qatar has a comparative advantage as compared all the other regional states. it's got cohesion. it's got a very manageable population, and small demography, and it has inordinate resources at its disposal. a second characteristic that sent qatar apart from the rest of the pack within the arabian peninsula and in the larger middle east is its centralized
decision-making. in many ways, a way to conceptualize qatar, the country, is to think of it as qatar the corporation. qatar incorporated is the way, easy way of thinking about it. in many ways the major decisions in the country are made literally by a handful of people and there's tremendous centralized decision-making. so you can imagine that, for example, the minister of energy brings in revenues. the prime minister who also happens to be in charge of qatar investment authority is the guy who invests the funds that are brought in. the former senior -- former in years wife is in charge of cultural activity. it's her foundation that has invited universities like georgetown, parnell, texas a&m, virginia commonwealth and
northwestern to come. she also oversees, along with a couple of for doctors, overseas cultural activities. then you have -- now for a couple of months, last couple of months is the chief deputy in many ways, the mere in waiting, the title of the former heir apparent was deputy mayor also. then you had the in ear was the ceo overlooking a whole operation. in many ways if you think about it is in making from investment to bring a dollars to cultural activities to overseeing all operations, those decisions were made by five people. and although the precise number may change by one or twocommon some of the personalities might change, the fundamentals of decision-making remain concentrated and remain centralized. and that gives the qatar political system tremendous
legitimacy. and the ability to cap was on opportunity that, for example, the kuwaiti political system doesn't have or the bahraini political system -- of course they have major problems. so although kuwait or the uae might have equal amounts of wealth, or even more wealth, they don't have the centralized and agile decision-making and leadership. but also the other characteristic of qatar is that it has an incredibly wealthy find vision. there is a vision that characterizes the qatar leaderships activities and agendas that in many ways lacking in other parts of the arabian peninsula, and across the persian gulf. it's a vision that initially was motivated by survival strategy. that is hyper active diplomacy which mention in a minute, was
initially motivated by a survival strategy when they shake came to power in 1995, there was an almost irrational fear that qatar would be gobbled up. it would be trampled and overwhelmed by saudi arabia, or by developments in iran. so qatar's engage in incredibly hyper active diplomacy to ensure its survival. and then they realized that it wasn't survival that they needed to worry about. it was getting a place secure on the global map. and that building on that position within the global map to enact qatar's larger position within the global community. and so there's a well-defined vision that is being pursued with unmatched passion in qatar. but also important within the
qatar political calculus is what might be called high modernism. this incredibly active and robust pursuit of modernity. however, defined. defined by the government. and the way that the government of qatar or the qatar state defines maturity is really through construction. and we see the passage that i read whereby actively, doha's geography is being read drawn and actively doha's arbor landscape is being reconfigured through the building of futuristic cities. georgetown university along with other universities is housed in what's called education city. there's all sorts of qatar science and technology park. the pearl artificial island. there are all sorts of
mechanisms to pursue modernity as defined by the government. and all of this is pursued by construction projects. and the importance of this isn't just in changing qatar's urban infrastructure. but in tying the state to business activity, in bringing within the orbit of the state and within the employ of the state, business interest and entrepreneurs. each of these cities that are being built, being built slightly north of doha or within doha there is doha land. not too different from disneyland but there's something called doha land. and all of these are construction development projects through which the business community is drawn in into the orbit of the state, and, therefore, political
stability is injured and in many ways purchased. political stability is insured. so there is remarkable political stability which ties the business community, potential opponents of this state, for example, in kuwait, to the states vision and its pursuit of development and modernistic projects. last but by no means least, the fourth element in qatar success is its influence and power. one of the things that struck me about qatar was how a small state established only in 1970 -- 1970-71, how can a small state become so consequential? there was an event -- there was an air of that meeting in which the qatari representative, this is before the arab spring, and
representative, qatar was very passionately advocating qatar's speech. and he was very easily dismissed by the representative from egypt at the time who said, please sit down, all the people in your country do not add up to the people in one bus stop in cairo. so when mubarak went to the al-jazeera studios, he turned to his information minister and he said, how can a matchbox like this caused so much trouble across the arab world? and you, he told his information minister, you employ 20,000 in cairo broadcasting, and these guys with their handful of people in al-jazeera studios create more problems. so qatar influence is a real. when it discovered is that qatar through a number of very carefully calculated foreign policy mechanisms, and to its
very careful use of its foreign policy toolbox, several tools in its toolbox, has been able to create conditions whereby it can pursue its interest. and what are some of those tools? first and foremost, qatar pursues a foreign policy that might be best described as hedging. this, of course, comes from gambling. it's a term that comes from gambling, whereby you place one major that one way, let's say you bet on the united states to guarantee our security, and you pay a number of smaller bets another way. let's say, for example, you maintain -- or with iran or with other actors that may not necessarily see eye to eye. and what qatar has been able to do through it very carefully calculated policy regiment is to
position itself as an important conduit between various actors that otherwise did not speak to one another. so interestingly, for example, a couple of months ago qatar was extremely successful, although aborted in many ways, successful in positioning itself as a kind of between the united states and -- that was an interesting develop and. qatar has been able to maintain ties very close or colonel ties with iran, at the same time as it is anchored in american, under the american security umbrella and american culture of institutions like universities and, of course, american economy and diplomacy, our economic patterns of development and diplomacy. and this is what might be called social influence. and what qatar has been able to do through its subtle power,
through its exercise of subtle power, is to create a set of conditions, a set of structures whereby they can exert its influence in quite subtle ways, through its international investments. through its careful pursuit of hedging as a foreign policy initiative. through its very deliberate, very aggressive branding effort as al-jazeera tv station represents. qatar is extremely active in branding itself, and, of course, through a very aggressive advertising campaign. if you fly anywhere in the world you will see advertisements for either the national carrier or four qatar foundation, or a whole variety of other qatar entities and interests that will help together create these sort of conditions. and, of course, needless to say, qatar's international
investments are extremely important. so let me in, if i may, with a passage from the book's conclusion, which in many ways points to some of the upcoming challenges that qatar is likely to face. unfortunately, sheikh hamad did not wait for the book to be published before he decided to retire. first, he retired and in the book came out a couple of weeks later. in many ways some of these very sources of success at centralized decision-making, i think can also become major challenges for qatar in the future. so here is how the book concludes. paradoxically, the biggest challenge facing the qatari system in the coming years has also been one of its biggest assets in the recent past, namely its personal nature.
the regimes focus decision-making has given it agility and flexibility. sheikh hamad, the boucher, has been a great navigator of his regions troubled waters and his own families fractured past. up until 2003, incidentally, qatar had never had a successful, smooth transition of power. every time there was a transition of power them up until 2003, it had come about as a result of a palace coup. but in 2003 of course all that changed. the former arab, had on the job training for a number of years since 2009, 2010, assuming an increasingly more visible and active profile in the decision-making process and in the country's diplomacy. but whether and how and future
generation of qatari rumors will deal with the same challenges that his father did remains an open question. let us make no mistake about it. regardless of the stewards and the visions and the capabilities, qatar's power is underwritten by its wealth. and as long as that wealth continues, so is the likelihood that the shake them will project a much larger image of itself and its size and abilities warrants. the length of the countries current moment in history, and how long it can project the former power, that is, by all accounts in commensurate with its size, history, infrastructure and industrial and scientific resources depends directly on how long and in what ways its wealth lasts and can be
prolonged. the real challenge is for qatar to carry on business as usual in the post-oil era. until then, the country can be reasonably assured of its place in the limelight of history. thank you very much. thank you. [applause] >> spent thank you very much for a very engaging presentation of your book. i predict there will be many books following you're awake now, talking about qatar. i will now open the floor to your questions. he will build his own questions and i will only ask you please identify yourselves before you ask your question and keep your questions brief and to the point if you don't mind. thank you. >> do we have a microphone?
>> hello. mehran, i wanted to ask you, you emphasize the remarkable social cohesion and efforts the regime makes draw in the business committee, for example. wondering if you have any thoughts and have the regime deals and how the emu deals with domestic dissent? thinking, for example, the men serving a 15 year jail time, and i think that the new emir has chosen to uphold that sentence. said the of any thoughts on what's going on there? >> yeah. you know, you mentioned domestic dissent. qatar is remarkable for its lack of domestic dissent. particularly in comparison to other regional states. doesn't mean there aren't individuals or chatter, particularly into social media. in particular, twitter, against
erosion of culture or against some of these developments. but by and large, you don't have dissent in the country. and i'll tell you why there's an absence of dissent. first and foremost, the average per capita gross domestic product is around $354,000 a year. and so qatar tends to be remarkably wealthy and are aware of that wealth, particularly in comparison to bahrainis or even in the rockies and the saudis and kuwaitis. so they know how good they have it. economically and financially, and they know that they need the state for the continued, accumulation of wealth. so that's one factor. but the other factor is that qatar has an incredibly well-developed and detailed
welfare system. and for qatarees, almost from cradle to grave every need is taken care of and -- qatar is the perfect frontier state. and in this kind of a state, the kind of issues that become salient and tend to exercise people and tend to excite people aren't necessarily issues of accountability. they are not denounced for transparency. what they are our demands that revolve around what might be termed cultural politics. for example, why is therefore sold in the country's only liquor store? the question of erosion of culture. as you know, for all intents and purposes, in qatar everyone speaks english. and even qatarees, particularly
qatarees who attend these america branch campuses often times students don't speak arabic fluently and don't have edited writing literacy. and some issues that revolve around cultural politics tend to be those that are important. the erosion of cultural authenticity, the erosion of qatari culture. these issues can be relatively easily addressed by the powers that be. for example, you can ban the sale of alcohol in the pearl as the government did. lowered you can somehow addressed, for example, the sale of pork in the country. so by and large, at least for the time being, given the current political economy of the country, the population seems to be a political for a whole variety of reasons. doesn't mean that the individual dissent. that may exist.
now, is this something that the sentencing of the poet, is it something that the shake person upheld? as you know, the poet is accused of personally insulting of a very personal type of insult. against the ruling family. and that becomes extremely difficult in the context of that culture, in the context of that kind of political system to pardon. having said that, let's not forget that the sheikh has been in office only a matter of months and so it will take a couple of years at least for him to put his personal stamp on the political system, as it took his father a couple of years to put his stamp on the political system. i promised to keep my answers
shorter. >> thank you very much. first, i wanted to talk to you about your opening and it don't. i want to ask you how sustainable in your opinion qatar -- [inaudible] considering a demography of 200,000 people. how do they transform traditional issues to pragmatism? for example, the empowerment in issues expanding qatar, not geographically but to include more citizens because the world needs people. this is my question. >> thank you. i'm not sure for growth unesco need people. it depends on how you work with the demographic limitations. no doubt the small size of the population poses major
challenges. for example, in terms of having a robust diplomatic corps are having a robust national bureaucracy or civil service that can staff your ambitions and can follow through. but at the same time a limited demography can serve several distinct advantages, or can be used for advantage. for example, if all other middle class is imported, then you don't have to deal with that inherently politically troublesome middle-classes. if you don't have a domestic and indigenous working-class, you don't have to worry about strikes. and if the working-class goes on a strike, you deport them and then there's a ready pool of replacement. so i think it depends on how you can massage and handle these demographic limitations. some of these states,
particularly qatar, can use it to their tremendous advantage. not having, in fact in many ways you can argue that qatar has pursued an industrial policy that has deliberately hampered the development of an indigent us domestic working-class. and at the same time a domestic and indigenous middle-class. because these guys can be troublesome. we go back to samuel huntington's lessig kings to limit. they have demands of political participation and political empowerment. having said that, and i go back to one of the other points you raised, women's empowerment. qatar has pursued a very deliberate and very active policy of women's empowerment. under the patronage of sheikh hamad. is a deliberate effort by this state to empower women. incidentally, and the government doesn't even have to try that hard.
qatar women, particularly younger women, seem to be far more motivated than qatari in. 75% of the national university is women, only 24% is men are of these american branch campuses, for example, at georgetown, 60% of our student body is female. 40% is male. so in many ways that's a part of the natural sense of wanting mobility. and, of course, the government facilitates that. let's go in the back. >> professor, i was wondering before 1995, qatar was in many ways subservient to its larger neighbors, saudi arabia. and then under the leadership of 1016, qatar was able to act much more independently of its larger
neighbor, much to its chagrin. now, in this new era under the leadership -- [inaudible] i'm wondering if you proceed that shift into the new leadership, will be able to act independent of its larger neighbor? will this be the end of qatar moment in history? >> that's an excellent question, and i think it's too early to answer. we have yet to see. but allow me for a minute, to very quickly share with you an anecdote. up until 1995, the former emir would go to riyadh every six months or so and thank the saudi king for his magnificent leadership of the arabian peninsula. not just saudi arabia as the arabian peninsula. at that homage that the emir
would pay to the saudi king was extremely personally resented by younger generations of qatarees but in 1995 that younger generation of qatarees came to power. the emir and the likes of the shakily became the prime mission and the foreign minister. answer from 1995 on, we have a crop of qataree leaders that anyway personally resent this secondary position that was ascribed to qatar in relation to saudi arabia. and we see this in terms of their foreign policy pursuits, to deliberately come out of the saudi get a. as you know up until 2010, 2011 there was tremendous tension between saudi arabia and qatar. largely because qatar was so determined to come out of the saudi shadow and the saudis
resented it. and dismissed the qatar as an upstart and even recently there was a tweet by the prince of saudi arabia dismissing qatar as a country of 300 people and a tv station. and, of course, the qatar foreign minister tweeted back and said we raise our kids to be a lot more polite than others. so a twitter war of sorts ensued. does sheikh hamad and the new crop of qataree leaders have the same visceral resentment of the saudi behemoth? i don't know. i don't think we know the answer to that. probably not. but again, i think we will see the ultimate results of sheikh hamad's step on qatar diplomacy in a year or two. so we don't know yet.
>> thank you for an interesting presentation. i'm a second year student here at the center. i was wondering, i have not had the pleasure of visiting qatar yet. i hope to someday. i was wondering if you were to advise another state on political reforms, what kind of advice do you think the qatar system can give them? >> what kind of device qatar system would give to another system or political reform? >> four, you know, it seems to be very effective so i was wonder whether this is something that could be reproduced elsewhere? >> i don't think qatar is in any position to advise on political reform. it's ultimately a nondemocratic political system. it happens to be a remarkably stable nondemocracy.
but it is by no means a reform, if you mean by reform a democratic political system. it's not a reform political system. qatar is -- that actually brings up the more interesting question as this thing keeps thinking. -- thinking, this microphone. that brings up an interesting question. the modus operandi of decision-makers. why does qatar make some of the decisions the way it does? for example, how could a nondemocratic political system have the audacity to bring in a number of american universities that teach liberal arts? .. that teach liberal arts? even in a nondemocratic environment. also, how dare does qatar support the yearning for freedom
in places like libya and syria, where is itself is a nondemocratic political system. and so what are the calculations that go on in the minds of these leaders that prompt them to make these decisions that really do not seem quite logical, or in many ways coherent. my response to that or my gut feeling to that is that they make decisions based upon several calculations and first and foremost, is this the right decision? does it serve our interests? does it not alienate the united states? does not alienate them even if they do not agree with it. and is it something that brings us this in an international community and help our branding efforts and doesn't help us in those terms and conspicuously
absent are the consequences, the unintended consequences. and so i think that the assumption is that we have enough resources to deal with what ever unintended consequences may arise and when you have a robust alumni and 10 years of all of these individuals who are graduates of northwestern university and carnegie mellon university and georgetown university, all of these would have had a robust group of alumni's and they asked about transparency and the lack of accountability and when they started politicking, how do you deal with the? i think that the assumption is that we have enough resources to deal with at that time. >> professor tucker? >> good evening. >> one has noticed that there
seems to be an uptick in the level of public discourse international on labor issues and in particular in connection with this and the programs related to this and am wondering if, how this is registering and if there is any visible reaction on the part of this small group of key decision-makers to what appears to be what is shaping up as a more significant public relations problem than they had in the past in this area. >> yes, that is right and that is another excellent question. first and foremost, i should say that the power comes -- the >> once you start getting involved and becoming visible things become fair game and you
open yourself up to scrutiny and that is what is happening in those areas. they are sensitive to their image. branding is one of their main concerns and how they are perceived they have been surprisingly very concerned, domestically, about what is turning out to be an image problem. and so qatar's minister of labor has several high profile meetings and announcements saying they are going to address these and they are going to look into living conditions of migrant labors. to what extent this is meaningful and follow-up is yet
to be seen. but there is awareness this publicity can attract the wrong attention and ruin to qatar brand. so there has been remarkable sensiti sensitive and front-page news stories looking at commissions. and there has been an attempt to say well what the "guardian" newspaper has reported is incorrect and out of con tect -- context -- but there is always an attempt to fix the problem. >> thank you for your engaging talk. i have a related question. it seems like part of the aspect of qatar's reputation around the
world has to do with an idea or excuse something about qatar's culture makes it to where they are less democratic and this flies in the face of the other modern things are doing. so i am wondering how aware these people are of promoting this culture versus the urban development. >> i am not sure they frame the discussion in the terms that you described, at least not quite in those terms. qatar has tried to position itself as a successful bridge between science and islamic tradition.
in 2010, they were chosen as a culture capital of the arab world much to the disagreement of the other real capitals of arab culture. but one of things we have seen is a deliberate attempt on the part of qatar to say that arab culture and heritage are not anti-semetic. we see this in american universities and qatar has set aside 2.8 percent of its budget
to research. and that is not like any other middle eastern country. you don't have to abandon your culture. if you look at the national vision, qatar 2030, is a document that is supposed to guide the state's intent and agenda and there is little progress to progression and little on reserving culture. the state kw the main leaders often times make a deliberate effort to say this is what sets qatar apart from a country like
dubai where they try to abandon what is you unique to their heritage. we foster change while careful about traditions. i am looking at you for how long to go. i am at your disposal. it is about 2-3 a.m. so we have all day. we have all day. >> professor, my good friend, thank you. i am from the university of france and thank you for this presentation on qatar. i would like to come back to the labor issue. i feel it is very serious issue
facing the international opinion that is sensitive. and many of your circle, and many of your observers are talking about the modern slavery. in your answer to this issue, you said that the qatar government is trying to fix the problem. my question is there is a need to fix the image of qatar abroad or fix the problem? >> good question. i think you start out with the assumption there is a problem. and i wish we had an hour or two to discuss this. the question is why does labor
keep coming if the problem is so dire? if he as we assume there is a modern form of slavery, why is it there is an exhaustable amount of labor? is it as dire as we think it is? does the average construction worker earn eight times the amount he would earn had he stayed in nepal? there is abuse and horrible conditions and exploitation and there might be certain times of slavery. but we need to contectualixtuco.
the situation is complex. there are people that come and make tremendous amounts of money and go back. there is so much remittance going back to the government of united arab emrites said they want to tax the remittance because it is huge revenue streak for the uae. i don't think that is quite workable and qatarians are not going to do it or haven't announced they want to do it. but the situation of migrant workers is extremly complex. and we cannot say based on an dotal evidence we hear we can generalize that all workers are
in the dying situation. i am talking about an emotionally charged subject in a couple seconds and i cannot do justice to that. but there are people who make a lot of money and there are people who are exploited and passports are taken and not paid for months and work in horrible conditions and have to go back to horrible camps. but at the same time there are those who are much better off working as migrant workers in qatar had they stayed. the question is if it is so bad why do they keep coming back is an important question to address. yes, sir? >> i was wondering if you could
talk about what qatar is hoping to achieve by hosting the world cup in 2014 and do you think they will achieve those goals? >> it is the same thing they tried to do in 1996. the same thing they always tried in 2006 when they hosted the asian cup and when hosted the asian football/soccer tournament. it is trying to achieve branding. saying it is not just a member, it is important within the arabian area and in the middle east and in fact beyond. so all of those showcased projects, the national airline, these high rise buildings, hosting the world cup, all of
these are showcase projects designed to enhance the country's brand and image. yes, in the back? brand. >> in the >> my question is you have talked about qatar's hedging. do you think their hedging in syria, libya and egypt have failed? we have seen how people in egypt and qatar is supporting the muslic brotherhood. in libya people are talking about them interfering and in syria qatar is taking a back step to saudi arabia. the peace conference was going on in london. do you think qatar's hedging has
fail failed? >> hedging is a gamble and risky foreign policy. in addition to what you mentioned, a month ago, somebody put a sign on the qatar's airways office at the trip of the airport saying we don't want you, go away. and the airways jet wasn't allowed to land in triply and had to go to alexandrialexandri and land. it has taken a back-seat in syria in relation to saudi arabia and the government of egypt, talk about a slap in the face, returned to qatar $2
billion to qatar that they had given in the form of long-term loans and grants to the egyptian government. so the question is whether or not qatar's hedging strategy has failed -- i am not sure. it could have failed/backfired. i think these are setbacks. my hunch is that the in the long term they have positioned themselves. the creation of condition is one thing to keep in mind. the creation of overall condition that become involved. you might take hits in the short term and these examples could be a couple short term hedges qatar
is suffering. i am reluctant to say these a arepart of the setbacks rolling back. as these are happening, there is a leadership transition that is taking place. and the new leader has a decidedly different style. his foreign minister has a different style and the emir has a different personality and style. he doesn't seek the lime light or the global stage in the same hey the previous ones were. the current prime minister is also the minister of internal
seek diversity so they are not so dependent on the policies including natural gas. and given so much is changing with unconventional sources becoming more poplar, are they concerned that exploiting the resources might be less of an advantage? >> there is a rhetoric and a reality. the rhetoric is qatar is trying to foster a knowledge-based economy in the post-oil era. so the new buzz word is knowled knowledge-based economy in preparation for the post-oil era. it sound interesting and
exciting but in reality it isn't reality. they are trying to prepare for the postal area through investments and uses the fund to position itself when their liquidified national gas dries up. qatar as you know it is the largest supplier of liquified natural gas. it has long-term contracts like 20-30 years so qatar is not as
vulnerable as a solely oil country like saudi arabia might be. >> there have been so many good questions. i am regulate today the gossip question and that is what is jay med up to? what is he doing now that he is no longer emir? in a country where there are so few decision makers and so many people to drive the agenda, these guys fade in the background. what is their role moving ahead and what are they doing in the meantime? >> that is a good question and i don't think anything is in the position to answer. their official title is the father emir so his official
title is the father of emir. he was photographed in paris att att attending a horse race. i think this is a genuine retirement. i think it was in the making for some time. it is easy at a second-guess and say i knew this was going to happen but back in 2010 frankly there were some rumors because of the emir's health at the time he was going to retire and his son would take over. and then the arab spring hit. and in the heat of the arab spring, the assumption was it
wasn't the right time to retire. so he was eagerly looking forward to retirement for a variety of reasons some having to do with his state of health and he is retired and enjoying it. remember the former emir and prime minister are very wealthy people and are enjoying the retirement in style. two more questions. >> thank you so much, professor. in your assessment, to what extent to the continued prominence of qatar depended on the support of the international company, particularly to united states, playing this role? surely it is significant for
national security particularly when you have neighbors like iran and saudi arabia. and the hundreds of thousands qatar has spent on military equipment isn't much use for american contractors to maintain and train the qatarians. and if you look at the industry, potentially, it is marked by we western ex-pat staff. and in the situation where the united states or the west is maybe reducing hits military footprint in the region is qatar's sustainability likely?
>> their risk taking and active diplomacy would not have been possible if it were not for the firm position of the united states security. so the fact the united states maintains the largest forward base in qatar has a lot to do with qatar's ability and sense of security to pursue its hyperactive diplomacy and engage in its economic activities that it wants to do. and they are afforded the opportunity to do what they want. and one thing, thanks for wikileaks, we know that compared to the other gulf states, qatar
spends little on its military hardware. that is part of the foreign military. they know the americans are there so why spend all of the money on hardware. in wikileaks there is a table in which a high ranking military commanders complains to the americans and says my budget keeps getting cut and i want more budget and it is cut by 10% which is interesting because the government was secure in the fact that the united states is there so why bother spending money on military hardware. having said that, they have placed a couple large military purchases. have said all of this, for the
last 35 years, all of the states of the gulf cooperation council, have capitalized on american's tension with iran. they see this as an opportunity to position themselves as american's allies. the former ally iran being a state and iraq the same and dismembered or at least in shambles. all of these states, saudi arabia, and others have capitalized on the united states-iran tension. what is going to happen if the tensions between iran and the united states gets reduced.
and we see the saudi arabians being nervous. they are nearly as nervous as the prime minister of a possible u.s.-iranian reduction of tension. what will they do with the iranian boogie man is no longer there? that is the thing to look at. >> i want to go back to the mention of big politics and ask you whether you see qatar transform into the a global city but do you see it leading the
elites with global issues like food security, global warming, spread of epidemics/diseases, or is the habit of hedging as a foreign policy strategy hendering qatar from significant approaches that would impact the future of the long term. >> thank you. excellent last question. small states in general specialize in particular issues and they become what might be n entripenuers and norway and
other small states specialize in one particular issue. qatar is no exception. at the same time, qatar reputation with branding and it is interested and active in dialogue of civilization and traditional dialogue. and they are involved with other global figures to reverse this clash of civilization or at least remedy it in some way. they are a hub and